I have lived 3 places in my life in/around Los Angeles, CA, College Station, TX and in/around the Clear Lake area of Houston, TX. New York City could not be more different than either of these places. Don't get me wrong, this isn't my first rodeo in NYC (I've been here to visit several times) but living here is quite different from visiting because it includes things like groceries and laundry and walking many, many, many (did I say many) blocks (for me usually in the wrong direction to start) and people, oh so many people.
Let's start at the beginning...I arrived to New York on an Amtrak from Boston (JP and I went to Boston to do some wedding recon before I left for the tour). When I left Boston, it was pouring rain so I checked the NYC weather and it was supposed to rainy there too. So, I took most of my summer clothes out of my suitcase (bad idea!) and even went and bought a rain coat (good idea!).
The train ride was awesome. I love trains and this one had wifi so I was even happier. After lugging my ginormous suitcase through Penn Station and up the stairs to street level, I discovered the most beautiful day....clear skies and 77 degrees. No rain here! I quickly ditched my rain coat, started sweating and proceeded to hit the streets to meet Michelle to pick up keys to the Brooklyn apartment I am subletting. After just a few blocks of lugging the suitcase and sweating profusely, I wanted to give up and jump in a cab with air conditioning but I remembered how expensive my upcoming wedding is going to be and opted to tough it out. I met Michelle, got the keys and she pointed in the direction of the D train I needed to take to Brooklyn. As I approached the subway entrance with my huge suitcase I thought to myself "Oh, going down the stairs is going to be so much easier than coming up". Both options are bad! Getting a suitcase upstairs is hard for obvious reasons and getting it down is hard because once the thing gets going it can get away from you and have you careening down head first. Luckily, this did not happen to me but there were a few close calls. Once I got downstairs, I bought a Metro Card -- 1 month unlimited for around $100 (which I lost 2 days later and had to replace [I opted to replace it with a 1 week unlimited this time. If I lose this one it won't hurt as much]). And proceeded to head to my new home in Brooklyn...
I got off the D at Fort Hamilton and walked at least 3 blocks in the wrong direction. Then once I got to where the apartment was supposed to be, I walked past it several times because there is scaffolding out front and I couldn't see the number.
Here it is, home sweet home for the next few weeks:
Once I got inside the apartment building, the real fun began. Carrying the aforementioned ginormous suitcase up 4 flights of stairs. I was exhausted before I even began and I had to stop for a breather at each landing. Once I finally got to the top of the stairs, I was huffing and puffing and was so excited to get inside and get off my feet and have a drink of water. One small problem, I could not for the life of me figure out how to unlock this door. I tried and tried and it wouldn't unlock. I think it took my about 15 minutes to figure it out how to unlock but finally I got inside and the apartment is quite roomy and very cute.
The Neighborhood - From what I can tell, the apartment I am staying in is located between the Sunset Park and Borough Park neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Here is what wikipedia has to say about these neighborhoods:
Sunset Park: Since the 1980s, Brooklyn Chinatown, located along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street (my apartment is on 49th between 8th and 9th), has attracted many Chinese immigrants. Eighth Avenue is lined with Chinese businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, Buddhist temples, video stores, bakeries, and community organizations, and even Hong Kong Supermarket. Like the traditional Chinatown in Manhattan, Brooklyn's Chinatown was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants. In recent years, however, to the discontent of many of the Cantonese, an influx of Fuzhou immigrants has been supplanting the Cantonese at a significantly faster rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown. The Cantonese presence is definitively giving way to an emerging Fuzhou community, though many Cantonese still come from other parts of Brooklyn and elsewhere.
Sunset Park also had a wave of immigration from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico as well as other Latin American countries. By 1990, Hispanics comprised 50% of Sunset Park's population, rehabilitating property values and developing a thriving community. There is an abundance of Hispanic restaurants and businesses along 5th Avenue.
People from Gujarat, India, have also been settling in and around Sunset Park since 1974. They are mostly Christian and go to three of the area's churches, at 45th Street and 7th Avenue, 56th Street and 4th Avenue, and 52nd Street and 8th Avenue. These churches have a mainly Indian congregation and festive parties in the church halls.
Borough Park: is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel, with one of the largest concentrations of Jews in the United States and Orthodox traditions, rivaling many insular communities. Since the average number of children in Hasidic and Hareidi families is 6.72, Borough Park is experiencing sharp growth. It is an economically diverse area, with rich, working class and poor people living side-by-side and going to the same schools and synagogues.
The thing I am realizing about living here is that it kind of simplifies your life for you because you can only take or buy what you can carry. Literally. I went to buy groceries, loaded up my basket and had to quickly unload because I physically couldn't carry every thing that I had selected (especially not with those 4 flights of stairs looming over my head). When the dirty clothes started to pile up, I made sure to go to the laundry mat as soon as the laundry bag was full because I knew I couldn't carry it by myself if I didn't. And another thing about laundry, I just had mine done: washed, dried and folded for $13.50 (for a weeks worth of clothes, linens, blankets and towels). SO WORTH IT!! And to the man who helped me carry it up the 4 flights of stairs, thank you, THANK YOU, a million times THANK YOU!!!